There are lots of different types of silk fan veils to chose from online. Whether you're looking to buy them for belly dance or festival season, here are a couple things to keep in mind when deciding which ones to purchase.
Some listings are very explicit that they contain a PAIR or SET of fan veils. This means that there is a left and a right fan included. You may want to make sure that the listing either comes from a credible source or it explicitly says this. There are some listings out there for single fans, although this is pretty uncommon. And I have once ordered a pair of fans and gotten two of the same side. The seller fixed the issue but shipping from China took a month after I'd already waited a month for this pair to arrive.
Fans vary in terms of silk weight, length, and fan size.
Not all silks are made equally. Some "silk" fan veils are actually imitation silk and made from a synthetic fabric. Beware of this! Fake silk does not flow the same way as real silk. Examine the language in the listing carefully or message the seller for clarity. Heavier silks will be more expensive and will move differently. A heavier silk is better for windier conditions, a lighter silk is better for indoor/no wind conditions. A lot of what you'll find online, especially from retailers based in China, is only one option for silk weight.
If you want something different than the lightweight silk that is offered most commonly, you'll need to look for smaller artisan silk fan makers. You may be able to request a custom pair with a particular weight of silk from those vendors.
Silk fans come in a variety of lengths. A lot of time this is listed in centimeters or meters. The most common length I see is 1.8 meters or 180 cm. This is about 70 inches or just under 6 feet long.
If you are tall, this may be perfect for you. If you are short, then perhaps consider a shorter fan length. It may save you money. Otherwise, you can carefully cut the end off the silk with a pair of sharp fabric scissors. Some fans have hemmed edges but some do not. So, if this means cutting a hemmed bottom edge off, just know that the hemming isn't necessary. It's a preference thing and may help to 1) weigh down the silk a little to create a different flow effect or 2) keep the silk from fraying during heavy use. I keep a variety of silk fan veil colors, sizes, and lengths in my prop collection. So, one thing I like to do when I'm considering which length of fans I'd like to use for an event or occasion is to consider the types of moves I'll be doing. If you move slowly, a longer silk fan is more likely to drag the ground or get caught underfoot. If you use fast movements or flutter your fans the whole time, perhaps a longer fan will work fine.
Also, you could measure the distance between your outstretched arm and the floor to get an idea if a 1.8 meter silk fan may be too long. Keep in mind that the length is usually measured separate from the bamboo or plastic fan itself, which adds to the total length of the prop.
The fans pictured in this article are some of my favorites, and the bamboo fan itself is larger than my normal 1.8 meter silk fan veils. From what I can tell, standard offering is a smaller fan for longer silks and larger fan for shorter silks. Some listings will show a diagram and measurements.
Where to buy fans...
I highly recommend considering an artisan vendor for silk fan veils. For one, you're more likely to get a quality product and unique color options. Also, the pandemic has been really hard for the performance community. These shops need our support. It's also a lot easier to ensure that your products aren't produced by forced labor or terrible working conditions.
However, I understand that sometimes budget constraints or availability of product is an issue. So, I've linked some Amazon listings as well.
For transparency sake you should know that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.